Anne Belmont is a nature photographer specializing in flower photography. Her first career as an art therapist shaped the way that she views art and reinforced her belief in the healing power of both art and nature in our lives. Now, she shares her own vision of the natural world through photography. A regular at the Chicago Botanic Garden, she was commissioned by the Garden to do a solo exhibition of her orchid photography, displayed in 20 larger-than-life panels during the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Orchid Shows.
We asked Anne to pull together a number of her photos that resonated with her the most…to encapsulate her vision (and how Lensbaby affects it) in a photo essay for our blog.
I live by the belief that one needs to continually strive to learn, experiment, play and, most importantly, have fun with photography. If we always photograph in the same way, our photography will hit a creative bump in the road. Lensbaby lenses allow me to spread those creative wings and fly, to bring artistry and fun to my photography. And, yes, as Lensbaby so aptly says “to see in a new way.”
Although I began experimenting with Lensbaby early in my flower photography days, it wasn’t until the Velvet 56mm came onto the scene in 2015 that I fell completely in love with Lensbaby. That lens had me head over heels from the first shot I took. It is the perfect companion for flower photography, allowing me to get in close to my subjects and create photographs with that signature ethereal glow that the Velvet is known for. I remember uploading those first images with the Velvet and gasping at the magic that lens captured. Since then, I have rediscovered the fun and creativity that the Composer Pro and the various optics can bring to my photography, as well.
I photographed this soft pink dahlia soon after I got the Velvet 56mm. I was stunned when I saw this image on my computer screen. Where did that color and beautiful light come from, let alone that background? This flower was shot in an indoor dahlia show at the Chicago Botanic Garden where the lighting was poor and backgrounds were difficult to control. I quickly realized the power of the Velvet for creating beautiful images straight out of camera, even in less than optimal lighting and conditions.
I approach each flower I photograph differently. I ask myself what story I want to tell about that flower. Do I want to bring your eye to the details throughout the flower or do I want to draw your eye to a particular part of the flower – a curl of a petal or a drop of dew – using selective focus? By using selective focus and isolating details I began to see flowers differently, to focus in on more abstract elements within the flower. Often, I simply want to draw your eye to a beautiful, graceful line, a curve, a pattern or a texture within the flower. Sometimes it is simply about capturing the essence of the flower in an ethereal way.
This Julia Coneflower, captured at the Chicago Botanic Garden, was another early image with the Velvet. I love this image because it shows the sharpness of the lens, while creating that magical glow and a perfect background straight out of camera.
Another dahlia captured with the Composer Pro, Sweet 50 optic with macro converters produced that sweet spot of focus surrounded by blur to create an abstract image reminiscent of flames. When I photograph flowers, I work my subject, composing in a variety of ways and from many different angles. Doing this has helped me to see flowers in a whole new way.
I love the way the Velvet created a painterly, impressionistic feel to this freshly watered dahlia. One of my favorite times to capture flowers is following a rain shower, after their early morning watering or while covered in morning dew. Water droplets and dew drops add such textural interest and character to a flower.
This rose was captured after it’s morning watering with the Composer Pro, Sweet 50 optic with macro converters.
Echinopsis or cactus flowers bloom during the summer months in our Arid Greenhouse at Chicago Botanic Garden. In the past I always photographed these flowers fully in focus to capture the details and texture of the magnificent blooms. Experimenting and trying new things is key, or we tend to come up with the same results again and again. I put on the Velvet, not sure whether I was going to like the effect with these flowers. I should have known what that lens was capable of!
So, what does a flower photographer do during the long winters of Chicago? We are blessed with conservatories, greenhouses and a world class Orchid Show. I am never at a loss for subjects even when I can’t photograph flowers outdoors. Other botanical subjects such as ferns are wonderful subjects indoors. The Velvet creates the perfect amount of dreaminess for capturing ferns and brings a softness to orchids, one of the most difficult flowers to photograph.
Spring is upon us and I am busy capturing the graceful lines and curves of tulips and the bounty of new life and color that spring brings us. I hope this post will inspire you to photograph the beauty of spring and bring some artistry and fun to your work with Lensbaby.
P.S. The Velvet 56 is now on sale for $100 off. Get yours right here.